Hi-Rez Studios will be partnering with Microsoft to host the first MOBA eSports tournament for consoles called the SMITE Xbox One Invitational.
A few weeks ago, Hi-Rex Studios became one of the first gaming companies to launch a MOBA on console (yes, there were previous attempts and no, you don’t want to see them) and also the first company to actually become successful. Through distribution of closed Beta keys to create hype and tapping into their already existing large player base, SMITE quickly became a decently popular game on consoles. Now, they’re going to use this popularity to launch their first console-only eSports event.
Usually consoles have always been the butt of the joke in terms of eSports. The biggest contenders here were usually fighting games but they could never compete with the viewer base of League of Legends, the prize pools of Dota 2, or the exponential growth of Counter Strike. Computers had more hardcore gamers, for whatever reason, and MOBAs were the biggest fad in eSports.
However, Hi-Rez Studios, acknowledging that they weren’t even close to being the most popular eSport and also that there was a huge potential market almost completely untapped, jumped at the opportunity and will now be promoting bigger and better SMITE events on consoles.
The SMITE Xbox One Invitational will only have four teams competing for a prizepool $150,000 whereas the SMITE PC tournament will have a larger pool of participants playing for a prize pool of 1 million dollars. Yes, the difference is considerable, but it is a huge first step towards having a sizable console eSports audience.
Both tournaments will be held in Atlanta, Georgia from January 7th to 10th, 2016, and will comprise the SMITE World Championships.